The Guide to Emirates Business Class

Check which airplane model you'll be flying before splurging on Emirates business — the seating experience varies.
Aaron Hurd
Ramsey Qubein
By Ramsey Qubein and  Aaron Hurd 
Updated
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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If you’re looking to fly in business class, Emirates is likely on your radar.

Emirates, one of the most celebrated airlines for its in-flight premium products, is a force to be reckoned with in the airline industry. It has the world’s largest fleet of Airbus A380s and flies all around the world, connecting destinations with one of the most luxurious in-flight products.

In Emirates business class, the experience begins at your home or hotel, where you'll be picked up via the airline's own chauffeur service. From there, you'll be whisked to the airport, where you can relax in an exclusive airline lounge.

On board, you'll curl up in cozy seats that lie flat. But if you prefer to stay awake, you might order your own beverage from the stand-up lounge bar or watch a movie on a screen that's massive by airplane standards.

This guide will help you know which planes to seek out and which to avoid (if possible, given your routes), what amenities to look for when you fly business class on Emirates and how you might book a free Emirates business class seat using points.

Here’s our Emirates business class review, plus how to maximize your miles when you book.

What to expect when flying business class with Emirates

Emirates business class. (Photo by Sally French)

Flying business class on Emirates is an experience far different from U.S.-based carriers. Many of the things you are familiar with for premium cabins are there, but the in-flight service and airport lounges are a step above Emirates’ North American competition.

Chauffeur service

If you're paying for business class (excluding mileage redemptions or the most discounted fares), Emirates will provide chauffeur service to the airport. The distance from the airport that Emirates will pick you up varies by city.

If you are departing from the United States, chauffeur service is typically offered within 50 miles of the airport, although you can circumvent the mileage restriction for a fee. Chauffeur service must be prearranged — you must book your chauffeur service at least 12 hours before your flight.

Emirates business class baggage allowance

Emirates allows passengers flying to or from the Americas up to two bags that each weigh 70 pounds (32 kilograms). You can also travel with two carry-ons — one standard carry-on and then either a briefcase or garment bag. Each carry-on can weigh a maximum of around 15 pounds (7 kilograms).

Here are the Emirates bag policies, by region, and compared across fare classes:

Economy Class

Premium Economy

Business Class

First Class

Flights to and from the Americas and Africa (except flights within the Americas and between the U.S. and Europe)

One piece up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms) for Special fares.

Two pieces up to 50 pounds each for Saver, Flex and Flex Plus fares.

Two pieces up to 50 pounds (23 kilograms) each.

Two pieces up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) each.

Two pieces up to 70 pounds (32 kilograms) each.

Flights within the Americas and between the U.S. and Europe

One piece up to 50 pounds for Special and Saver fares.

Two pieces up to 50 pounds each for Flex and Flex Plus fares.

Two pieces up to 50 pounds each.

Two pieces up to 70 pounds each.

Two pieces up to 70 pounds each.

All other routes

You may check as many bags as you like, but your baggage is restricted by total weight. Each individual bag may not weigh more than 70 pounds.

Total baggage weight varies by fare type:

Special: 44 pounds (20 kilograms), 55 pounds (25 kilograms) between United Arab Emirates and India.

Total baggage weight: 77 pounds (35 kilograms).

Total baggage weight: 88 pounds (40 kilograms).

Total baggage weight: 110 pounds (50 kilograms).

The Emirates checked baggage policy is especially unique when it comes to flights outside the Americas, Africa and Europe, as you can bring as many bags as you want — as long as you don't exceed the weight limit. In theory, you could check 20 bags that each weighed about 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms), which might offer some passengers more flexibility. Keep in mind that no one bag may weigh more than 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

Priority airport service

At the airport, you’ll enjoy priority check-in desks before heading to the lounge and priority baggage reclaim. From Dubai International Airport’s concourse A, business class passengers can board directly from the lounge.

Emirates business class lounges

A meal from the Emirates lounge at San Francisco International Airport. (Photo by Sally French)

There are more than two dozen Emirates lounges all over the world accessible to business and first class customers.

The airline’s Dubai base has the most impressive business class lounges (special perks include barista-made coffee and a new health and wellness buffet). In Dubai’s concourse B, you can even visit the Moët & Chandon Champagne lounge, where you can sample top-notch bubbly for free. At the Dubai airport, Emirates has three lounges in its flagship Terminal 3 exclusively for business class.

The Emirates lounge at San Francisco International Airport. (Photo by Sally French)

But you'll also find Emirates lounges at other major cities around the world, each of which carry the airline’s signature touches. For example, the San Francisco Emirates lounge still features that signature (albeit smaller) waterfall feature, plus a shower room to freshen up pre-flight.

No matter where in the world you are, these lavish lounges serve hot and cold buffets, impressive bar selections, including champagne, and sometimes a la carte meals. Beyond the food, lounge benefits include individual workstations, complimentary Wi-Fi, plasma screen TVs and quiet areas for sleeping with blankets and pillows.

Emirates business class lie-flat seats

(Photo courtesy of Emirates)

Lie-flat seat availability is one of the main reasons that people book an Emirates business class ticket, but the experience varies across Emirates planes — the airline has multiple business class configurations. It is important to know your aircraft type before understanding what seat you will find.

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Emirates A380 business class

If you want the best experience in Emirates business class, the A380 is the plane you want to fly. On the Airbus A380, there is no need to worry about getting the dreaded middle seat, as every business class seat has direct aisle access thanks to the 1-2-1 configuration.

On the sides of the plane, seats alternate between being closer to the window or closer to the aisle. In the center section, seats vary between being closer to the aisle or tucked into the center section for more privacy from those moving in the aisle.

Seats are 18.5 inches wide, pitched up to 48 inches apart. They recline into fully flat beds and have a six-way adjustable headrest and electric footrest extension.

There are 76 seats available in the three- and four-class configured A380 and 58 seats in the two-class configured A380.

Other A380 benefits include the airline’s famous on-board lounge and bar, which is exclusive to the A380.

Emirates 777 business class

It’s on the Boeing 777 where things get tricky. Only the Boeing 777-200LR has a 2-2-2 configuration. Most other Boeing 777s guarantee that you will have a 2-3-2 setup where the person in the very middle will have to climb over their neighbors. Emirates is currently updating its 777 fleet to include fully flat beds. The business class updates are expected to be complete by April 2025.

There are also fewer people in this business class cabin, which makes it more exclusive, as most configurations of the Boeing 777 have just 42 business class seats.

(Photo courtesy of Emirates)

The airline uses a lot of cream, hardwoods and gold finishes to create a luxurious cabin. While it may not appeal to everyone’s design tastes, it is certainly striking. While no one wants a middle seat in a premium cabin, the top-notch in-flight service remains the same.

Emirates business class food and drink

Emirates offers some of the finest menu options, such as locally inspired selections like the Japanese dining experience available on flights to Tokyo or Osaka. While menus change monthly with the season, there are always menus to support most diets, including a kids menu and a vegan menu.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Emirates publishes its menus for different flights on its website. Just enter the flight details online to discover what is being served on the food and beverage list.

Meals start with an aperitif and appetizer followed by the main course and then decadent desserts. All meals on Emirates are halal. In between the main meals, there is a light bites menu that passengers can order from at any time, including items like tofu poke bowls, vegetable noodles, and lamb and rosemary pie.

The drink menu includes labels like Hennessy X.O cognac and Chivas Regal 18-year-old Scotch whisky. There are cocktails, wines and welcome champagne. A 2013 Moët & Chandon is currently on offer on long-haul business class flights. If you're not drinking alcohol, you might sip on complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks or juice.

Emirates serves its business class meals at set times but will honor dine-on-demand requests. That's in contrast to other competing airlines, including Qatar Airways, which always offers dine-on-demand for passengers in first or business class.

Though if you do prefer dining (or drinking) on your own schedule, Airbus A380 planes have in-flight lounges where passengers can gather for a drink, sandwich, snack, dessert or even a meal.

Passengers will dine on Royal Doulton fine bone china with custom-made Robert Welch cutlery.

In-flight entertainment

Emirates business class seats include personal charging ports if you'd rather remain entertained by your own (fully charged) device. (Photo by Sally French)

Dubbed "ice," Emirates’ in-flight entertainment programming is among the best in the industry. There are up to 6,500 channels of entertainment, with hundreds of movies, sitcoms, documentaries, music and games to keep passengers busy.

While, yes, the same programming is available to everyone (no matter what the cabin), business class passengers benefit from a larger screen than those seated in lower cabins of service.

Interested in what is available on your flight? You can preview the entertainment options on Emirates’ website by route or flight number.

How much does Emirates business class cost?

In March 2024, we found the lowest priced fares from $4,314 for one-way trips from New York-John F. Kennedy to Dubai. This is a saver fare. A Business Flex fare on the same route was priced at $5,993.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Financing is available through Uplift.

Here are some other one-way Emirates business class fares we found:

  • Chicago to Dubai, $4,314.

  • Los Angeles to Dubai, $4,462.

  • Miami to Dubai, $4,314.

  • San Francisco to Dubai, $4,760.

  • Washington-Dulles to Dubai, $4,314.

One way to stave off the sticker shock is to book your business class ticket with points and miles rather than cash.

Your spending with other points programs could be a route to an affordable trip, as you can transfer those points to your Emirates Skywards account. You can transfer miles and points to Emirates Skywards from a variety of bank programs, such as:

Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Emirates Skywards miles at 0.6 cent per mile. Use NerdWallet's Skywards miles calculator to understand how much your miles are worth in dollars based on our valuation:

Instead of a traditional award chart, Emirates relies on an award calculator that helps travelers know how many miles they need for a flight. The number of miles you need on a particular route is always the same (no dynamic pricing), but each route can vary.

For example, business class saver awards from New York-John F. Kennedy to Dubai cost at least 138,000 miles for a one-way trip. Expect to pay a hefty amount of taxes and fees on your award ticket.

Prices are slightly better if you can find award availability on both ways of your journey. Flying round-trip between New York-JFK and Dubai will cost 174,000 miles, a 37% discount off the price of booking two one-way tickets.

Also look out for Emirates’ fifth freedom flights between the U.S. and Europe, like Newark, New Jersey, to Athens. These cost only 87,500 miles in business class each way.

Taxes and fees on this route also come in at a reasonable $106.

Earn Emirates miles quick

Need to rack up more Emirates Skywards miles? There are two Emirates Skywards credit cards that can help pile on the miles as well as the perks if you are a frequent Emirates flyer:

How the cards compare
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card
Annual fee

$499.

$99.

Welcome offer

Earn 70,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Earn 60,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.

Still not sure?

Those who are looking to make a one-time redemption only may prefer to stick with another credit card to accumulate valuable miles and points until they are ready for their big Emirates adventure.

How to book Emirates business class with miles or cash

To book an Emirates ticket, navigate to the Emirates website and input your flight details to begin your search. If you're searching for flights priced in miles, you’ll need to first log in to your Skywards account. Once you’re logged in, you’ll see the option to search for "Classic rewards." Check this box to search for flights priced in miles.

Be sure to select “Business Class” from the drop-down menu and then search. Here's a one-way flight from Orlando, Florida, to Dubai.

Emirates business class ticket in cash

Emirates business class ticket with miles

Select your flight, input passenger data and follow the prompts to complete the booking.

How Emirates business class compares with other Emirates fare classes

The in-flight shower for passengers in Emirates first class. (Photo by Sally French)

Emirates makes headlines with its in-flight showers — though the shower in the sky is reserved solely for first class. Even still, Emirates business class is among the finest experiences when it comes to air travel, thanks to lavish features such as the stand-up lounge bars (available to first and business class).

Emirates has four classes of service: first, business, premium economy and economy. But the reality is that even within business class, there are superior and inferior products. While you experience the same benefits on the ground (luxe lounges and all), the seats can vary quite a bit once on the plane.

If you absolutely cannot risk a middle seat, you might splurge even more for first class.

Emirates premium economy. (Photo by Sally French)

Meanwhile, someone who is somewhat budget conscious might consider the lower fare class of Emirates premium economy, which the airline says costs about 65% less than business class fares.

While Emirates premium economy doesn't offer the full lie-flat service of business class, there are specially designed pillows and blankets, extra recline and a leg rest so you can arrive well rested at your destination.

Premium economy won't get you the ultra-bougie perks like chauffeur service or lounge access, but you might still be able to get into the airline lounge anyway by holding certain travel credit cards.

Is Emirates business class worth the money?

Emirates business class seats. (Photo by Sally French)

Emirates delivers an exceptional airport and onboard experience that is miles ahead of the competition. Whether you’re going to Europe, the United Arab Emirates or beyond, you’ll be pampered no matter where you sit in the business class cabin.

That said, Emirates business class has some hiccups that keep it from being absolutely perfect. The biggest issue: middle seats in business class on certain aircraft. Just be wise when booking to avoid that dreaded seat.

Meanwhile, you can maximize your experience by racking up Emirates Skywards miles from flying with the airline, transferring points from a credit card rewards program or applying for one of the airline’s credit cards. The next time you’re enjoying a cocktail in the lounge of an Airbus A380 at 36,000 feet over planet Earth, you’ll be glad you did.

(Top photo courtesy of Emirates)


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